Bachelor of Science in social work, 1989
Executive Director, Welcome House of Northern Kentucky
Winning the Lottery | “I won the lottery a long time ago,” says Linda Young, referring to her childhood in Mason, Ohio. “My family didn’t have much money, but we loved and supported each other. I grew up in a little town where it was safe to just sleep out on your porch. I not only had two parents, but I had the whole community who raised me. Working for Welcome House, I realize just how much that means, how valuable that is. Not everybody has that support. And it’s not something you can buy.”
Family Matters | Young grew up the oldest of six siblings. And although her brother and sisters now live in different areas of the country, they remain a tight-knit family. On their 50th birthdays, the six of them (sans kids, spouses and friends) vacation together and act like they’re kids again.
The Crash | In 1981, Young’s husband was killed in a drunk-driving accident. After the accident, friends and family supported her and her two small children. And while she felt blessed to have a strong network of people who cared for her, she wondered what life was like for those who didn’t have the same resources that she had.
The Second Chance | When she decided to go back to school, Young chose to study social work instead of furthering her career in nursing. The social work program proved therapeutic for Young because her classes allowed her to ask the questions that she had been contemplating since her husband’s passing.
Welcome Back | After earning her bachelor’s degree, Young worked as Welcome House’s program coordinator until she went to Case Western Reserve for a master’s program in social work. Upon graduating, the Welcome House offered her the position of executive director. “I feel a responsibility to the community,” she says. “It makes sense to me that if you have a strong community, you take care of or work with people who have challenges and less privileges.”
Problem Solver | She considers herself a pragmatist and feels in her element when she finds creative solutions to real-world problems, like homelessness and poverty. “My work is about creating a model that’s affordable for people to be able to pay rent and take care of both themselves and their family. We can eradicate homelessness. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”
Real Hero | Dealing with such real-world issues on a day-to-day basis can be overwhelming. When it becomes too much, Young turns to a poster from writer Brian Andreas hanging on the wall of her office for a little reflection and inspiration: “Anyone can slay a dragon, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.”